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Automatic linking to encyclopedia pages

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Automatic linking to encyclopedia pages

I am wondering if you have a list of terms defined in your encyclopedia mapped to its respective url? For example, an XML or tab-delimited list of terms? The reason I ask is that I am writing software for a math-based website and wish to give users the option to have the software automatically link mathematics terms in their posts or documents to PlanetMath entries. I think this would be a good idea, rather than forcing the user to look the term up on PlanetMath, Mathworld or Wikipedia beforehand. I don't think I've seen this done before.

Thanks for your help.


Your rationale for not releasing the source code is strange -
I would say that being unable to properly support the code
is a good reason to transfer it to someone else to maintain
after it is written (assuming that it is actually useful).

I'm also not sure why you prefer to start your own site instead
of making something that would be useful people who are using
PlanetMath already. If you are mainly interested in building
your own site, OK, I understand that. But if you're actually
interested in making something that will really be useful as
a source of mathematical news and information, then I think
you really shouldn't underestimate the benefit of contributing
your work to an existing site with a large user base.

To quote from Stephen Turnbull,

Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
ask what your business can "do for" free software.

In sum, it would be trivial for PM to provide the data you're
asking for - but I also think you might find that reevaluating
the strategy behind this project would lead to something more
useful to more people. I could be wrong. I do think that
if you solicit feedback on the design of the "experience heightening"
features you plan for this site or forum before you actually
start writing code, you might find that useful, no matter
how you decide to go about publishing the work. I also
encourage you to write free software, because you never
know when someone else might find a way to extend your work.

Your arguments are getting to be more and more attractive to me. I am certainly not averse to open-source development, having run nothing but Linux at home for several years now. Let me look around for your PM code and I'll examine it for a few days. Would PM be interested in adding blog-like features to its codebase, ala Slashdot or Mathforge? Is this the proper forum for discussing these issues?

Yes, I'm sure some users would be interested in blog-like features;
indeed, I added a request for a very similar feature to the wiki
just the other day.

http://planetx.cc.vt.edu/AsteroidMeta/User_pages_for_PM

As for where to discuss things, a lot of the discussion among
developers takes place on the wiki, but if you feel more comfortable
using the forum you can do that too. I do suggest taking a look
around the wiki. More people probably read the forum, but discussion
can be more detailed and organized, so one thing you could do is
sketch your ideas on the wiki, then post links on the forum and
ask people what they think.

I think you may be misunderstanding my intentions. I don't want to mirror anything on PlanetMath, only provide a shorthand for users to take advantage of PlanetMath's breadth of information. It will be foremost a news and informational site and discussion will be secondary, if it occurs at all.. however, in order for participation to be attractive to the user, I intend to implement a number of particular features that will, hopefully, 'heighten the experience' for them. I also have no intention of releasing the code in any way (although anyone who wants it can have it and do what they will) as I cannot afford the time to properly support and release the software. This is simply a hobby of mine to keep my programming skills sharp (hence the desire to write my own software) and also to keep up with current mathematical events.

What is the rationale for making a separate site for this?
Why not just modify the PM forums to support semi-automatic linking
like you're describing, together with simple and wiki?

Sure, it would be a forum-like news website that concentrates specifically on mathematics. See http://www.mathforge.net for a good example of this type of site.

As far as the usage of the feature itself, I'm debating on whether the software will automatically detect words, or if the document-author will have to specify which words to map. The problem is with words like 'set' or 'group' and other math terms which are common in everyday English. With this consideration, its probably best to supply a notation for automatic linking of articles, i.e. [[pm Set]] would turn the word Set into a hyperlink to PlanetMath. The current Mathforge notation for hyperlinking is [[http://www.planetmath.org PlanetMath]], so it would fit neatly into this scheme, as well as to allow letters other than 'pm' to specify other sites, like 'wp' for wikipedia, etc...

Can you tell us more about the math-based website you're talking
about? What would it provide that is different from what
PlanetMath already provides (viz. automatic linking to PM documents,
among other things)? One reason I'm asking is that we've been talking
about creating a section of the site for (non-encyclopedia) articles (and books)
that would link to encyclopedia articles,

http://planetx.cc.vt.edu/AsteroidMeta/PlanetMath_engine_interbred_with_w...

We've also talked about having forum postings automatically link
to encyclopedia articles.

It would be easy enough to supply the document you're talking about
(which of course would be updated regularly as the encyclopedia grows),
but please do us the courtesy of telling us a bit more about your plans first!
It could be that we could save you a lot of work by adding the features
directly to PM (and perhaps you'd be interested in helping with that).

There are many other features I'm interested in besides the semi-automatic linking and additionally, my programming experience lies in server-side Java. Your PM software is very nice, but what could be more fun than writing my own website software? :) I thought the semi-automatic linking idea would be a novel and logical use of an online encyclopedia's content and shouldn't be difficult to implement.

I would be happy to help you modify the PM forum source if you'd like (although I'm afraid I may not be as proficient in your source language as others). The method I would use is nothing overly complicated; I would only parse the user's input and request the hyperlink associated with the given keyword from a mysql table.

Well, again, it strikes me that adding features directly
be to PM might be more useful for more people than building
a whole separate site. For example, if you were to add
support for Java-based interactive software directly
in PM articles, that might be even cooler than building
a separate site that featured similar software and only links
to PM. If you actually decided to fork the PM content, that
could be interesting - but there are host of problems
associated with working with forked content that we haven't
completely solved yet. Of course, you'd be free to go ahead
and do it anyway. But I'd suggest thinking a bit more about
how to build the features you're interested in into the existing
PM site. For one thing, there is already a fairly active user
community, i.e., free beta testing - and while it might be fun
to build website software, my sense is that building a user
community takes a long time and is pretty challenging.
You might find that your software would be mostly orthogonal
to existing code, so you would really "have your own website
software" but as part of an existing website. Anyway, assuming
that your project meets the FAIF criterion, you might want
to make use of the Wiki (which is shared by PM and other
related projects) to lay out your ideas in more detail and
get feedback from interested parties before you do too much
coding.

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